Suicides: no Hung Party, but in Want of “Spiritual Home”

People’s Net (人民网), in an article republished by Enorth today, advises its readers to put coverage on party officials’ suicides into perspective:

Recently, two unnatural deaths of party officials came to the attention of the public. On August 25, the chief prefect of Heibei Province’s Wanquan County (万全县), Wang Cong (王聪), hung himself in a hotel, and on August 27, a Sheyang County disciplinary commission official (Jiangsu Province) jumped to his death from a high building at the county’s People’s Hospital. Police have since released information that he [or she] was suffering from depression, and hadn’t faced economic problems.

In 2009, thirteen officials of all administrative levels had died unnatural deaths, mostly from suicide, People’s Net quotes incomplete statistics. In 2010, the media had made eight such cases public so far. There were experts who said that the rate of suicides among cadres was much lower than among the population in general. The most important thing was that cadres took care of their psychological health (摆正心态, bǎi zhèng xīn tài) found a clear orientation, and  secured themselves a happy spirit and a happy home (让自己拥有一个快乐的精神家园).

Among others, People’s Net refers to the case of Song Pingshun (宋平顺), once chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Tianjin branch. Song’s probable motivation to kill himself, a reported graft probe, isn’t mentioned in the article; but in connection with a reported suicide of this year by Liu Yunfeng (刘云峰), of Zhengzhou City’s (Henan Province) building and construction authority, People’s Net cites an investigation that was in progress against Liu. People’s Net sees no reason to doubt that a lack of family happiness, corruption cases, career problems, and too much working pressure were the main reasons for cadres committing suicide, and quotes Li Chengyan (李成言), party secretary and/or professor at Beijing University’s school of government, as saying that “a clean political environment where  officials don’t want corruption, are unable to be corrupt, and don’t dare to be corrupt (前提是要有一个人人清廉的政治环境,让官员不想贪、不能贪、不敢贪,用制度保护官员的心理健康)” was “a precondition for the mental health of officials”. Li also refers to yet another paper released by the CCP this year which defines the standards of an honest cadre’s work.

Reference to the goal of a harmonious society is also made, and Zhou Xiaozheng (周孝正) *), a Renmin University sociologist, is quoted as saying that both cadres and common people were lacking a “spiritual home” (无论是平民百姓,还是官员,自杀最普遍的原因是缺少一个心灵的家园).

The main remedy, People’s Net finally quotes another expert, is for officials to keep the needs of the common people on their mind, to do their work in a fair and just way, and thus find peace of mind.

Adam Cathcart, in a post of Tuesday, writes that Uighur students and government officials are not allowed to worship in mosques. According to a report published by the US state department in 2006, Communist Party members are directed by party doctrine to be atheists and their family members are discouraged from public participation in religious ceremonies. Also in 2006, AsiaNews reported ideological differences on religion within the CCP’s Liaoning Province branch, concerning a reported diktat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CP) of Liaoning against the adherence of party members to a religious faith.

____________

Footnote
*) Zhou Xiaozheng has emphasized superficiality and impatience as drivers for psychological imbalances before. I’m not sure if spirituality is the adequate translation for 心灵 (xīn líng), but China Today quoted Zhou in connection with Buddhism in China, and people turning to spiritual conciliation.

Related
Ni Lingmei: Police Conclude Investigation, May 6, 2009

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